Seeking the Relatives of Those Who Witnessed or Were on Board The German High Fleet Scuttled in Scapa Flow


German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow

A 100 years on from the scuttling of the German High Seas fleet in Scapa Flow Orkney commemorations will be held on Midsummer’s Day 2019 to mark the event and to remember the 15 German lives lost.

The events in 1919 were witnessed by a large group of school children from Stromness, who were on an outing in Scapa Flow aboard a local vessel, the Flying Kestrel. They watched in amazement as ship after ship started to heel at strange angles before sinking to the seabed. Descendants of those on board are invited to get in touch if they would like to be involved.

Antony Mottershead, Arts Officer with Orkney Islands Council, said:

“We are working with partners in Germany to see if we are able to identify and contact any descendants of the 15 sailors who sadly lost their lives. Closer to home, we would like to hear from descendants of the children who were aboard the Flying Kestrel or have a close family connection to the events that unfolded that day.”

Antony can be contacted by email or by phone on 01856 873535 extension 2406.

Following the end of the First World War, Germany had to surrender most of its Naval vessels as part of the Armistice agreement.

A total of 74 ships from the German High Seas Fleet arrived in Scapa Flow for internment. On 21 June 1919, acting under the mistaken belief that peace talks had failed, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the command to scuttle the entire fleet, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the British and Allied forces.

Salvage at Scapa Flow

Scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow: Salvage work in progress on the German battleship BADEN at Scapa Flow. The cruiser FRANKFURT is also in view. (IWM)

A total of 50 ships went to the seafloor. Many were later brought to the surface again during one of the most remarkable salvage operations ever attempted at sea. Those that remain on the seabed attract divers from worldwide keen to explore the wrecked vessels.

Consultation Launched on the Designation of Scapa Flow as an Historic Marine Protected Area (HMPA).

A programme of community events held around the time of the anniversary will reveal the historical significance of the scuttling and mark its impact and continued legacy in Orkney.

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